The Essential Clone Wars: “The Mandalore Plot”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars The Mandalore Plot, Duchess SatineSERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E12 – “The Mandalore Plot”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Anna Graves, Jon Favreau, Corey Burton, Greg Proops
WRITER:
Melinda Hsu
DIRECTOR:
Kyle Dunlevy
PREMIERE DATE:
January 29, 2010
SYNOPSIS:
Obi-Wan reunites with an old friend to solve a mystery on Mandalore.

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Episodes like “The Mandalore Plot” expose a problem with the show: Obi-Wan’s costume. For whatever reason, characters like Obi-Wan, Anakin, and Ahsoka appear in the same singular outfit episode after episode. That’s not a drastic problem, as they’re Jedi and virtually always wear similar outfits. But for Obi-Wan it’s a problem, as they opted to put him in battle armor for his singular outfit. That works fine for battle sequences. But this episode starts with a diplomatic mission to Mandalore. As such, the armor is inappropriate. Obi-Wan really should have been in Jedi robes, akin to what he wears in all three prequel films.

Making the Mandalorians their own society of super commandos presents a problem: It devalues Boba Fett and Jango Fett, as we now virtually have a planet full of characters that all have similar costumes and gadgets. Considering what pivotal roles Boba and Jango have in the saga at large, I would have deemed that unacceptable, regardless of whether that’s how the Mandalorians were originally conceived.

Star Wars The Clone Wars, The Mandalore Plot, Pre Vizsla

What’s more, it’s a problem that Star Wars wasn’t able to even try and solve until more than a decade later, when we got to The Mandalorian. When we get to “The Tragedy” in season two, we’re able to see how Boba Fett’s fighting style is much more brutal than Din Djarin’s, and presumably the rest of the Mandalorians. I’d still prefer Boba and Jango had the whole helmet and jetpack M.O. to themselves. But that helped.

On the subject of The Mandalorian, the man who would become its showrunner, Jon Favreau, plays Pre Vizsla. I’m not enamored with that casting choice, though. Maybe it’s the stark contrast of his nasally American accent against the ones James Arnold Taylor and Anna Graves give to Obi-Wan and Satine. (I say that as a guy with a nasally American accent. It’s not an insult, I promise.)

The Clone Wars is a kids show, right? At least in theory? I say that because it’s not often you see a suicide on a kids show. We hear the sound of his body hitting the ground and everything. I ain’t mad at it. I’m just saying you don’t see it often. If ever…

Before strapping Obi-Wan into that Adam West Batman style death trap, the Death Watch soldiers thought enough to take Obi-Wan’s lightsaber. However they apparently didn’t think to check him for communication devices. Bad form, gentlemen.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Legacy of Terror”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E7 – “Legacy of Terror”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
James Arnold Taylor, Matt Lanter, Olivia d’Abo, Dee Bradley Baker, Brian George
WRITER:
Eoghan Mahony
DIRECTOR:
Steward Lee
PREMIERE DATE:
November 20, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
On a rescue mission, Anakin and Obi-Wan face a hive of undead Geonosians. 

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This episode is about zombie space bugs. That’s pretty awesome. Also awesome? It’s not totally stupid. So I tip my hat to director Steward Lee, writer Eoghan Mahoney, and everybody else on the creative team for taking a concept that could easily have gone south and making it work.

I wonder how difficult it is to animate a sandstorm like the one we see in this episode. What’s more, to make it look as good as it does. I can’t imagine it’s easy…

These last few episodes, the show has done a superb job playing up the creep factor of these giant bugs. The idea of brain-invading worms are enough to really make your skin crawl. And that’s before factoring in the whole zombie thing.

Dee Bradley Baker, who also voices the clones, plays the Geonosian hive queen (shown above). That’s a hell of a range on display there. A legitimately creepy voice too.

This episode comes something of an abrupt end. All things considered though, there are worst mistakes to make. Better a quality episode that ends quickly than a mediocre episode that drags…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Landing at Point Rain”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S2:E5 – “Landing at Point Rain”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Matt Lanter, Brian George, Dee Bradley Baker, Ashley Eckstein, James Arnold Taylor
WRITER:
Brian Larsen
DIRECTOR:
Brian Kalin O’Connell
PREMIERE DATE:
November 4, 2009
SYNOPSIS:
The Jedi lead an attack on the Separatist droid factory on Geonosis.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I initially wrinkled my nose at Anakin and Ahsoka gloating about their respective kill counts. But then it occurred to me: The Separatists use robots. So they weren’t actually “killing” anyone.

Our big bad guy at the droid factory is named Poggle the Lesser. We also saw him in both Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. But question: Does his name mean anything? I mean…lesser what? What does that word mean in this context? That one’s a head-scratcher for me.

Here’s an odd complaint to have about a war show: This episode felt really loud to me. Lots of explosions and spaceship sounds and pew pew pews. I guess that’s how you know I’m not a young fanboy anymore…

There’s a moment in this episode where a Clone Trooper gets blasted into the air and takes a hard landing on the ground. Another clone then shouts, “Man down!” That was funny to me. When you go down like that, “Man down!” is pretty much adding insult to injury, isn’t it?

This episode really didn’t do much for me. This, despite it being on various “Best of” lists as it relates to The Clone Wars. It’s a great example of how well the show can do the big Star Wars battle sequences. And it’s got a cute little moment between Anakin, Ahsoka, Obi-Wan, and Ki-Adi Mundi at the end. But other than that…

My guess? Because it’s part of a multi-part story arc, “Landing at Point Rain” simply isn’t intended to stand on its own as much as a typical episode. I can only assume it’s meant to set the table for better things to come.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

The Essential Clone Wars: “Rookies”

***I must confess that, despite being a huge Star Wars geek, I have yet to see the landmark Clone Wars animated show in its entirety. I’m aiming to rectify that to a large extent here, as we look at pivotal episodes of the series in, “The Essential Clone Wars.”

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Rookies, image 1SERIES: Star Wars: The Clone Wars
EPISODE:
S1:E5 – “Rookies”
WITH THE VOICE TALENTS OF:
Dee Bradley Baker, James Arnold Taylor, Matthew Wood, Tom Kane, Matt Lanter
WRITER:
Steven Melching
DIRECTOR:
Justin Ridge
PREMIERE DATE:
October 24, 2008
SYNOPSIS: 
A group of rookie clones unite prevent a Separatist droid invasion.

***New around here? Check out our Star Wars review archive!***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

We start the episode off with what looks like a hologram version of a radio broadcast. That’s a cool little world-building (or in this case, universe-building) element to throw in.

Almost all the characters on The Clone Wars, especially this early in the show, always wear the same outfits. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s case, it can be distracting as he’s wearing battle armor. It looks out of place in scenes like the one on the bridge of the starship. In hindsight, I might have put him in something that looked a little less battle-ready.

Star Wars The Clone Wars, Rookies, Image 2

When I looked at “Ambush,” I noted how I’m not a fan of the battle droids being overly goofy. These stealth droid commandos, on the other hand, are right up my alley. They give off just the vibe you’d expect an evil robot army to have. They’re cold, efficient, merciless, and scary.

It took me a minute to realize that Echo, one of the clones we see in this episode, is also one of the main characters in The Bad Batch. I can only assume we’ll be seeing more of him and his evolution as we move through The Clone Wars and into The Bad Batch. That’s always a cool thing to see.

And of course, we have Rex and Cody in this episode. We know they’ll both play notable roles as time goes on.

“Big gun doesn’t make a big man.” That’s a good line. The kind that should be repeated often in certain parts of America…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

A Back to the Future #1 Review – Like It Was Yesterday…

Back to the Future #1, 2015TITLE: Back to the Future #1
AUTHORS: Bob Gale, John Barber, Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Brent Schoonover, Dan Schoening
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: October 21, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was the hidden gem of “Back to the Future Day,” right here. While other people were watching Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd (God bless ’em) on Kimmel, and making stupid 2015 memes, comic book fans got a special treat: New Back to the Future content spearheaded by film writer Bob Gale.

Plus, it’s a chance for Dan Schoening to draw more ’80s stuff. Frankly, that was all it took to hook me in.

Under the banner of “Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines,” IDW’s first venture into the Back to the Future universe shows us how Marty McFly and Doc Brown met for the first time, and ultimately began to forge the partnership we see in the film. Also, we learn that a younger Emmett Brown was part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. Readers get to see what the inventor of the Flux Capacitor was like as a young adult, and how he was recruited for the war.

Back to the Future, Brent SchoonoverBrent Schoonover’s style is a fine fit for the first story, “When Marty Met Emmett,” in which Marty is bullied into stealing something from Doc’s lab. Schoonover’s take on Doc is excellent, but it takes some time to get used to seeing a younger Marty. Schoonover is in an unenviable position, here. The issue has a Dan Schoening cover, and the second story is drawn by Schoening, but Schoonover’s work is sandwiched between them. At first it feels like a let-down, but he wins you over.

Via a time stamp (October 2, 1982), we know that Marty is about 14 in this story. What’s interesting is that when confronted by the bullies, he behaves a lot like his father originally would have. I suspect we see Gale’s influence here, as this somewhat infers that Marty’s relationship with Doc is what turns him into the character we meet in the movie, as opposed to the coward that George was.

Marty’s presence is missed in the second story, “Looking For a Few Good Scientists.” But it’s so damn cool to see Schoening draw Doc that you get over that quickly. If you’ve played Back to the Future: The Game, it’s actually quite easy to hear James Arnold Taylor’s voice coming from the figure of young Emmett Brown. Schoening’s rendering of Emmett is fun to look at, as it’s every bit as animated as Christopher Lloyd’s performance.

Back to the Future #1, Dan SchoeningIn truth, there’s not much to say about this story right now, as we have yet to get to the ins and outs of Doc’s involvement in the Manhattan Project. What I did enjoy, however, is how the seeds are planted early for the character’s reputation as a crackpot scientist. He initially isn’t put forth for the project because of his unorthodox nature. I can only assume that same unorthodox nature will lead to interesting results next issue.

This issue also contains a nice little afterward from Bob Gale about the initial creative process for a Back to the Future comic series, and what ground they did and didn’t want to cover. For die-hard fans, that’s definitely worth a read.

At this stage, 30 years after the original film’s release, it’s tough not to be happy with new Back to the Future content of any kind. But the fact that it’s coming from such talented creators, with backing from Bob Gale nonetheless, makes it that much sweeter. Thus far, this series has me locked in for the long haul.

Image 1 from comicvine.com. Image 2 from planetcritico.com.

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